Retailers embrace e-commerce as customers shop more online

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By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
THE NATION

RETAILERS in Thailand are increasingly recognising online selling as a necessary business activity driven by the rising number of Internet users embracing this way of shopping.

Helping pave the way to business success in e-commerce is the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (Public Organisation), or ETDA.

The agency, an arm of the Ministry of Digital Economy of Society, conducts annual surveys profiling the actions of Internet users in Thailand. This year’s survey found that the top five most popular activities are: 1) communication through social network sites such as Facebook, Line, etc., 2) searching for information, 3) email correspondence, 4) watching TV or listening to online radio, and 5) online shopping.

“It is a delight to say that online shopping was the fifth most popular activity for this year, while last year this activity was in the eighth ranking,” said the agency’s executive director, Surangkana Wayuparb.

Surangkana said the Internet Market Report provided by the Office of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), revealed that about 43.87 million people in Thailand accessed the Internet last year.

“With compound annual growth rate at 20.2 per cent from 2000 to 2016, we expect that in the next five years the number of Internet users in Thailand will reach 46.48 million by 2021,” she said.

 Surangkana said that the value of e-commerce in Thailand is projected to increase by not less than 10 per cent per annum over the next five years. Her agency is working to maintain that momentum.

“Last year, we at ETDA, in cooperation with the Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP), launched the ‘SMEs Go Online’ campaign to encourage small and medium entrepreneurs to rely on e-commerce activity as another tool to boost sales,” said Surangkana.

An e-directory would be established this year, she added, with individual entrepreneurs contributing to verify business details and build the confidence of international business contacts.

She said that Thailand is seen as a country ready to participate in e-commerce after changing its business operations to support Internet-related activities. Already, most entrepreneurs are increasingly using social media to support their businesses, including Facebook and Line.

Surangkana said that private companies in Thailand are facing up to the challenge of orienting themselves to the government’s Thailand 4.0 initiative, and finding commercial benefit from Internet use.

Surangkana said both retailers and consumers are increasingly attracted to e-commerce, to the tune of Bt2.5 trillion in transactions in 2016. Leading the pack in value is retail e-commerce (B2C), where Thailand is out front within the Asean block. Buyers are increasingly embracing this new way of shopping, raising expectations that the Thai e-commerce market will grow to Bt2.8 trillion this year, up 9.86 per cent.

“This year, we aim to support Thai e-commerce entrepreneurs to move into the bigger marketplaces,” said Surangkana. “Business matching activity will be organised to help the strong Thai e-commerce entrepreneurs meet with major international buyers such as importers from China and Hong Kong who need quality products and services from Thailand.”

As well, her agency will help create networks, connecting e-commerce beginners to those with knowledge to share. “Those who are thinking of starting an e-commerce business will be able to get started properly under the guideline and guidance of e-commerce gurus,” said Surangkana.

ETDA will host “Thailand e-Commerce Week 2017” between November 24 and 26 at the Plenary Hall 1-3, Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. The forum will be a platform for all kinds of entrepreneurs to learn how to create business opportunities and potential success through developing their e-commerce. The week’s opening ceremony will be presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, who will also speak on the topic of “How could the national strategy support e-commerce?”

Prajin will also chair a “people’s choice” awards ceremony honouring e-commerce entrepreneurs.

Speakers from leading Thai and foreign companies, including Central Group and Thai Beverage, will share their e-commerce experiences with participants.

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